Marist School’s Latin American Studies Culture Club Celebrated “Belonging” in Exhibit

On December 12, the Latin American Studies Culture Club (LASCC) invited the Marist School community to a reception and opening of their art/photography exhibit, “Belonging: Who We Are, Where We Come From, and What We Bring to Marist,” in the Gunn Gallery.
The title of the exhibit, “Belonging,” was a word play highlighting the idea of not only “belonging” but also of “being” and “longing”—two words found within “belonging”—that also symbolize the duality of growing up as a Hispanic/Latino and an American.

LASCC addressed the ideas of “Who We Are,” “Where We Come From,” and “What We Bring to Marist” in the exhibit. The artwork featured composite images of students posed in their everyday attire fused with images of them in traditional clothing reflective of their cultural heritage. The students wrote descriptions in their own words about their experiences. For instance, Isa Yelamo Cockcroft ’21 wrote, "I am fully of Venezuelan blood but was born in Atlanta; you could say I was assembled in the United States with Venezuelan parts…”

The exhibit also included an interactive world map for people in the school community to identify their own family background.

Launched in fall 2019, LASCC was formed by a group of students as an extension of the Introduction to Latin American Studies Class. This inaugural exhibit was a collaboration among the students and LASCC Moderator and Social Studies Teacher Mr. José Gregory, Artistic Director and Fine Arts Department Chair Dr. Michael Bieze, and Parent Sponsor Mrs. Vicky Gastaldi.

In his remarks at the exhibit opening, Club President Diego Palmisano ’21 said, “For many children of immigrants, they often feel as if they must choose between the culture of their forefathers and the culture of their new home. Instead of being both, kids feel pressured to decide whether they should follow the beliefs of their parents or the beliefs of the mainstream culture they wish to adapt to. But the purpose of this project is to show that people can be American and can be proud of their heritage. That is the duality of being American and Hispanic/Latino. For us, there is strength in diversity, power in inclusion, and pride in our roots. America was built upon this idea, and this idea is the past but is also the future of our great country…”

After the opening event, Marist teachers took their classes and advisories to view the exhibit, extending the reach of the project and interweaving the topics of inclusion and identity into their courses. While the exhibit closed on December 20, LASCC will work with the Technology Department to digitize and preserve the exhibit for future use in order to share the participants’ stories and build more empathy across cultural lines.

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